Let’s just get this out of the way, I’m new to the Wii. I know, I know, but bear with me. At least I’m coming into this with a fresh perspective. Having said that, let’s move on to my first review of a Wii game. I’ve only played one other iteration of Mario Kart and that was for the N64, so it’s safe to say that it’s been a while since I’ve had anything to do with Mario Kart. I was looking forward to trying out the wheel that came with the game, but most of all was looking forward to the co-op and on-line play.

Like the other versions of Mario Kart, you can choose your character from the 24 Nintendo characters made available, each having their own skill set based on weight. The heavier the character, the slower and sturdier the ride and vice versa. The karts vary from the traditional to luxury sports cars, and they’ve even included motorcycles this time around. One issue I noticed with the motorcycles is that they come to a near-sudden halt when colliding with another vehicle, making you loose precious time.

A neat feature, when using the wiimote, is the ability to pull off in-air tricks by flicking your wiimote at the top of a ramp. You can make your character spin around in its car to having your character perform a freestyle kick flip on a motorcycle. Reap the rewards once you land, as pulling off a trick gives you a quick turbo boost. Power-ups are also strewn across each course, ranging from quick mushroom speed boosts to devastating turtle shells. These little advantages can come back to haunt you as they’re available to all of the other racers as well.
Course wise, the game recycles a large number of already used courses from the various Mario Kart iterations. Although, it has to be mentioned that there are several new courses in the game as well, with the roller coaster-like mine shaft track and the local mall courses coming to mind. While zooming around the various levels you’ll be blasted with a variety of tropical, upbeat tunes that become repetitive and at some point quasi-annoying. The sound effects run the usual route, with roaring engines and the unfortunate over-repetitive character voice-over’s.

Mario Kart has a lot to offer, from co-op racing to the on-line mode through the Wi-Fi Connection.You’ll be able to download against countless other racers and best of all there will be downloadable content also available. The on-line mode allows up to 12 players to take part in each race, allowing you to race against your friends or strangers. Your skills are also kept track of with a virtual ranking, which changes depending on your wins and losses. You can also download and compete against “ghost racers,” allowing you to participate in time trials.

Having heard how great and fun the Wii’s control system is I was looking forward to using the wheel that game with the game. It looked unique and fun to play with. Unfortunately it was one of the biggest let-downs of the game. It felt a bit awkward playing with a steering wheel that’s not grounded to something, not to mention how small it is in my big hand. I stuck with the wiimote and the nunchuck and found it easier to handle.

Overall I’d have to say that Mario Kart Wii isn’t a bad game. Far from it! I enjoyed playing it and it was fun playing co-op, especially when I’m far better at it then my wife. It’s just that as a complete package it’s nothing special. I guess I’m still a bit underwhelmed by the graphics and the steering wheel. If you’re a fan of the series or these type of racing games then I’d say it’s definitely worth a pick up, if not then I’d say it’s worth a rental.